Corporate Spies

Completely for fun here’s a rumor I had to deal with at the restaurant I told y’all I was waiting tables for: “She’s a spy from corporate”… Corporate sent me, little ol Kristina, into a restaurant in little ol Decatur, AL to spy on them? Whoooooaaaaa. As the new kid I found it humourous. As an employee trying to do a job I found it frustrating. As an HR professional I found it heartbreaking. I immediately wondered what kind of situation I could’ve signed up for. Are things bad enough in your organization that people assume the new kid on the block is a spy? to clean things up? To shut things down? To rat people out? To change things, for the better or even the worse? What kind of culture have you shaped that has people fearing a corporate mole when someone poses a solution to a problem? I can’t face day-to-day situations and turn my “HR” off, no matter where I am. It may be a curse… I don’t know, lol.

eyespy

It has me thinking about culture and where us HR professionals get it wrong… We tend to be in situations where we wait until everything about our culture goes wrong before we find a solution. We are very much reactive in defining culture and we should take a look at our goals there again and see how effective that is. Now I know we don’t all have an opportunity to build culture from the ground up, but I see a lot of situations where an HR pro comes in and identifies the need to change the culture, but waits for something to blow up to get buy in on the idea. Don’t do that! You take responsibility and start making things happen… pitch it better to the higher-ups, make sure the higher-ups believe it and support it. Be an example. If you know me you know that I’m an advocate for the 5 love languages and the theme in the book is really based around making a difference starting with yourself… If you continue to throw tantrums no one takes you seriously, if you start to implement what you know it is going to take and behave the appropriate way people will see the results. That is taking on a huge role, but the ROI is worth it. I can tell you this though, if you wait until half your staff believes that there is a spy from corporate to clean up the culture… you’re in big trouble.

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Growing Apart: a culture break-up

I focus a lot of my recruiting efforts into selecting candidates that will be a culture fit for where they are applying to work. Recently I’ve been tossing around some questions with Ben over at upstarthr.com and some of my co-workers at my day job. I still have a lot to learn about identifying the right candidate based on culture criteria and I’m pouring a lot of effort into making sure I understand what the company intends their culture to be and if their existing employees feel the same way. Talking to my co-workers got me wondering what my previous co-workers would’ve said the culture was in my last position and then I remembered a conversation I recently had with one of them.

A few weeks ago I received a text from one of my former co-workers. She was talking about being at a mandatory company wide meeting and somehow the conversation turned towards divorce. We were talking about books on my reading list that I would recommend and the 5 love languages was one of them… totally a life changing book. When I told her about the book and the purpose and how easy it is to apply it to your every day life she was sold and then she shared with me that her and her husband had almost divorced previously… It’s no secret that I was on the brink of that myself… mostly because my desire to succeed in my position and the importance I placed on the company jeopardized my priorities. Her response to that was “Oh yeah I know I think most of us have”. I stopped and stared at my phone as the crushing truth smacked me in the face. That right there defined their culture (and though I don’t work there anymore, it breaks my heart). That very conversation that her and I just had summed up what was and was not important to the company we slaved away for and I don’t use that lightly. When she said most of us, she meant most of the top producers in the company. Why? Well, because our options were to succeed or to fail. Either choice was on a zero budget and we were expected to make miracles happen. I don’t know what you know about making miracles happen, but it takes a lot of time and effort… might as well move into your office! My young 20-year-old self saw it as an intriguing challenge.. I can do this..! My young inexperienced, unmarried self fit their culture. I had nothing else to devote my time to, but work. I had no experience so I had to be grateful for the opportunity. I never imagined that my expectations of work could and should change as my life changed. I was not a believer in the work/life balance. I didn’t understand putting yourself/family before your job (remember that old school work ethic that I learned growing up?).

One of the questions that made it to Ben was something along the lines of where do the “bad attitudes” go to work? Because, there is a place for everyone… He had a well worded spin on it and I’m sure he will share it on his blog soon if he hasn’t already done so. And the dots started connecting for me.. today I would be a terrible culture fit for my previous employer, not because I have a “bad attitude”, but because I have a different attitude and most definitely not because I can’t or won’t produce, but let’s face it, we all do our job better when we are happier. What makes you happy? Aligning with the right culture for you. Sometimes that may take a few companies before you figure out what that is (note: this is why I don’t immediately dispose of the job hopper resume, sometimes I have a little glimmer of hope in my heart that they are on a quest to find their culture fit… I mean, if it is important to us recruiters isn’t it possible that it actually is important to some of those job seekers?). Sometimes it means you and the culture of the company you work for grow apart. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible demon if you don’t fit the culture or vice versa; it just means you’re no longer a fit. It is what it is.

it is what it is it was what it was

I’m still here!

So you’ve all figured out that I’ve been ignoring the blog a bit lately. Not really intentionally, but I have a LOT going on that is keeping my focus elsewhere! 🙂 So this is where I am… I’ve kind of touched on a fairly recent employment change and to shine some light on that employment change it was not a very well planned employment change! BUT, that is perfectly okay because it’s given me a lot to blog about 😉 so stay tuned! Some of the topics you can look forward to will be along the lines of overcoming upper managements brick walls, planning for failure, interviewing the interviewer, back up plans, corporate spies, culture from the outside in and much more! Right now I’m working two jobs- a lot of fun, I’ve always enjoyed working two jobs and it keeps things interesting, but I’m doing something I never thought I’d do again- waiting tables. Recap: Recruiter by day, Waitress by night, job seeker* somewhere in there with a dash of blogger. *I am currently in the interview process with another company for a pretty sweet job, so hopefully I can remove the “job seeker” soon. I am happy at my current day position, but it’s not a long-term employment situation and both parties were aware of that going into the deal. I really can say that they have been absolutely AWESOME and the thought of leaving them eventually is bittersweet… Speaking of AWESOME I’m getting ready to head to the Hill in about a month for a SHRM visit and I officially have plans to attend the national SHRM conference in Chicago this summer! I expect both of these trips to give me some good content to share with you guys!

right meow

I really just wanted to carve out some time to share with you all that I am committed to getting some good stuff delivered to you as well as thank you for your continued support!

And for your enjoyment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTlc_cK7aKo

 

Secret Squirrel: The candidate guessing game…

As someone who is excited about process improvement I’m always questioning the way we do things. Not in a “that’s stupid” kind of way, more like “I want to know more and I want to understand the process” kind of way (probably a skill that could use some fine tuning). Anyway, the last few days I’ve been meeting with a team of people who are involved in some big hiring decisions for a project I’m working on. Some of these people are HR some are not, some are experienced in the interview process some are just helping us out for logistic purposes. Listening to the group give their opinions on our interviews has become extremely interesting to me. I always tell people when they are asking for advice on how to get hired, how to stand out from the crowd and so on to just be themselves because there is no one way that guarantees you will impress your recruiter, or whoever you are interviewing with. As I heard comments like “If you don’t even have at least a Sunday shirt to wear…” or “his answers sounded too rehearsed…” I thought to myself-how often do we focus on the wrong things? Why do we recruit the way we recruit? I used to always tell the recruiters that worked under me that it was NEVER a deal breaker if a machinist didn’t have an A+ resume… (staffing industry tip alert*) the machinist job is to be good at being a machinist not at writing a resume, our job as recruiters for our clients were to let our clients know why he was going to be a good hire… Now that I find myself recruiting for a company on the inside, I still believe this, I need a forklift driver to be good at driving a forklift not writing a resume. I didn’t explain to the candidates coming in for an interview what to wear specifically, so I don’t care that he wasn’t wearing a sunday shirt. [in fact when a candidate did ask what they should wear I told them to wear what they would feel comfortable in for an interview…a panel interview is intimidating enough I wouldn’t want to force them to wear clothes they weren’t comfortable in too!] I did tell the candidate to expect to meet with multiple people as this was a panel interview and to take the time to do some further research about the company before he came on site, I appreciate that he took that advice seriously and was prepared for an interview. For the record one of my biggest pet peeves is when a candidate shows up for an interview and asks “what do yall do here?”… ughhh? Why do you want to apply for a position here and not even know what we do here?

Anyway, I know I’ve said it before, did we change the way we recruit and forget to tell candidates or did candidates change the way we recruit and we are trying to catch up? Chicken? Egg? Here’s my opinion, 2 generations at once was a triumph, the more you add the more difficult decision-making becomes. Your old school opinions are the “sunday shirt” opinions… Your new school opinions are “Are you available for a Skype interview? BTW we wear jeans M-F and we are okay with the occasional telecommute” and so on. Somewhere in the midst of the generational melting pot we’ve decided we will recruit for skill and culture so we can be forward thinking companies and maximize our potential and run lean and create mentorship opportunities, etc. Ok-I’m starting to run all over the place with this, again, hang with me. Are we expecting candidates to know that’s our goal? No. So we tell them that is our goal. And we wait… and wait… to see how they respond, right? Well we know what we mean & just because we say it, doesn’t mean the candidate knows what that means. It’s easy to recruit for skill, no doubt about that, but culture brings a new element to the table. So tell your candidates what kind of culture you are looking to build, tell them what that means to each employee and the goals of the facility and what the expectations are of the candidates as far as meeting/sustaining those goals. Then wait for the reaction. Then see if they are excited. If they understand. If they are on board. Don’t keep it “secret squirrel” and then be bummed when they didn’t exceed your expectations. Create open communication with new hires on how they can contribute to the culture and the company goals and coach them when necessary. Nurture that from the beginning and eventually those people will be the ones teaching your new hires how to react to the expectations of the culture, start at the beginning! And don’t be afraid to define the organizations definition of the culture they are building. I was talking with an HR friend who said that a recent candidate she interviewed had impressed her because he repeatedly mentioned that he was looking for a second family and that meant something to her because she deals with so many people who “could give a shit less about the people they work with” and later I thought “Well, what if that’s what family means to them?” This is a great example in my mind because people say “I want to be treated like family” or things like that, but family may not be the most important thing to that person so they may define family a bit different from how you or I would.

What is the most important thing, in your opinion, that a candidate must do in the interviewing process to get hired?

recruitingmeme

It ain’t easy being pretty…

Ridiculously Photogenic Guy
Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

So by now we have all seen some tidbits from the Iowa employee who was fired because she was too irresistible and I just had to dedicate a post to it, even though I’m a little behind. [I have been super busy with some projects I will be sharing towards the end of the month and interviewing for a new job so cut me some slack and read on] The best post I’ve seen about it so far was here: http://www.timsackett.com/2013/01/04/fire-beautiful/ . I have a couple of thoughts that I want to throw out there for conversation…

-As an HR pro how would we handle this scenario? Employee A comes to you and says that Employee B’s clothes are making him uncomfortable. There is probably a dress code right? If someone else was wearing something offensive we would address that right? He expressed that he was uncomfortable and we are HR we won’t stand for a “hostile” work environment, eh? How would you handle that in your organization?

-Why are they texting each other to begin with? What kind of policy do we have in place to avoid this drama? I’ll say this affairs typically do not start as affairs, they start somewhere else, somewhere innocent… oh I don’t know… maybe they start with texting and a relationship that builds from there. (Make wiser choices married people). I know it’s not HR’s job to referee marriages this little paragraph is just one married person keeping it real with all you married people.

I think it’s a bit of misrepresentation of faith… They met with their pastor and then he decided to let her go… I’m all for “lead us not into temptation” but legally I don’t think this is fair. I won’t jump too much into this one because it isn’t the focus for me, but I just wonder how the conversation with pastor went? Maybe pastor should’ve said let’s start with not texting each other anymore.

Here’s the deal, I think this kind of stuff happens all of the time, both ways. For instance my last job moved me into a sales role. The talks leading up to moving me into a sales role were a lot like this: “You have the look for sales” “You have a face for sales”… I was young and cute and those were the qualifications I had for sales… because I had ZERO sales experience outside of girl scout cookies. These talks made me pretty uncomfortable, but I finally agreed to give it a shot. (If you’re wondering, yes I turned out to be good at sales, but I don’t think it was because of how I look). I’ve also had clients, mostly of the manufacturing sort, request unattractive females for clerical assignments-as not to distract the men from the work they had to do. So when is it okay to hire on looks? Or fire based on looks? NFL cheerleaders? Servers at a restaurant? Receptionist? Futhermore, why are we all on her side when this hit the news? What responsibility does she hold in this, if any?

job interview

Throw your New Years Resolution in the GARBAGE

Yes, It’s officially January 2nd… how many of you have already broken your new years resolution? Not I-Not I, because I don’t wait for the new year to implement my goals! 🙂

New-Years-Resolutions_1

I. Hate. New. Years. It’s such a disgustingly annoying unavoidable repeating scenario, year after year after year. We all know what is going to happen, the gym will be packed in January, everyone will laugh and say “durn it, I keep writing 2012, I just can’t get used to putting 13, har har har” and you make a New Years resolution, you break it, you cry, you whine, you decide to try again next year. Really? You fail at keeping a [probably unattainable in the first place] resolution in the first month and don’t take a stab at it again until next year… You annoy me. I am already tired of seeing the posts about the resolutions (good/bad/ugly/etc.) Try this on instead, a challenge… a promise… a goal… anything but the R word.

With that, I challenge my HR brethren to fulfill its purpose this year, to be the best business partner they can be, to improve organizations, to improve employees, to build other HR professionals up (especially you catty women, better said by Laurie here: http://thecynicalgirl.com/there-is-a-special-place-in-hell-for-hr-women-who-dont-help-other-hr-women/ ). I challenge you to take HR to the next level, to motivate and mentor! I challenge you to set attainable goals for your work life and home life. I challenge you to promise your family they won’t be second to your job. I challenge you to make a difference. If you fail at any of these don’t wait until next year to start over. You don’t need some shiny ball drop paired with horrible musical performances & raunchy kisses everytime you need to set a new goal, so I challenge you that if you fail, if you fall short in the slightest way, to start again the next day – not next year.

I know I sound like a New Years version of the Grinch, eh, well… maybe I am!

ConspiracyKeanuNYR

 

Taking Charge vs Leading

Did you know there is a difference? Once upon a time I didn’t know and when I say once upon a time I pretty much mean most of my life. I can think back as far as a 3rd grade group science project that I was in charge of and how little patience I had for two of the kids in my group that didn’t “get it.” Oy vey! Just thinking about it now messes with my blood pressure-it wasn’t a hard project (yep, I can remember the project exactly too!).

I just know what you should be doing...
I just know what you should be doing…

Anyway, at my last position I had many trials and tribulations in the area of leading… mostly because I have an obvious lack of patience and a low bs tolerance, but I learned a lot!  So my aha! moment came one Thursday night after work when I was sitting at my desk with absolute shock and anger at the fact that my staff wouldn’t do their jobs the right way, CMON MAN! And I was called to the carpet that very day for being short with them… My response to that was just blank stares and a lot of “REALLY?”… [what an amateur response right?] So I dial-up one of my allies in the company just to get some perspective and kind of vent, SOOOOO NOT expecting this person to give me an aha! moment. He asks me what happened and what I said so I begin to tell him… he stops me in mid-story and says “THERE, RIGHT THERE!” What? Right there what? “If someone said that to you, you would be so offended…” You know what, I would’ve been, but my defense counteracted with a smart aleck “No one would have to say that to me for me to get offended because I would be doing it already!” Well sass-pants that’s not the point now is it? The point is you can’t talk to people like that and expect them to respond… So the back part of the aha! moment was this: I’ve got to stop talking to my staff like I’m a co-worker and start talking to them like I’m their leader. When I say that I talked like a co-worker, I think many times I did & it’s similar to when a parent tries to play the role of a friend and not necessarily the role of a parent – it’s confusing. I was pretty much creating my own problems because I wouldn’t let go of my stubbornness because “If I can understand it why can’t they?” was a staple in my reasoning.

So after a few days of licking my wounded ego and pretending I wasn’t in the wrong I started a change, a change that wasn’t as evident then as it is now, in how I talk to people not just staff. It started with little steps like replacing some words in a request with nicer words, becoming sincere, practicing patience of course and trying to understand why it is that someone doesn’t understand what I feel I easily understand. Some of these were steps that I already knew I should-be doing, I was just too stubborn and some if it is advice from my great group of HR peeps and of course a book or two helped guide me. It’s exciting for me to see the difference in how people respond to requests from me and I feel like I’m really back on track to getting this leadership thing down. Taking charge of a project has always come easy for me, but leading a project, I know now, is way more enjoyable!

Just for fun...
Just for fun…